Amama: When a Tree Falls


Contemporary World Cinema | 2015 | 103 minutes

Stranger Says:

When a child is born into this Basque farming family, a tree is planted. The grandmother (Amama, in Basque) then paints the trunks of the grandchildren’s trees red, white, and black in a ceremonial tradition—for the chosen son, the lazy child, and the devil. The protagonist of this film is of course the devil, and an artist. Relationships are visually represented and acted out through this little forest; the landscape is destroyed and transformed (the movie’s subtitle is When a Tree Falls) in a way that elegantly portrays changing familial ties alongside the accelerating demise of farming culture. (JULIA RABAN)

SIFF Says:

When a Basque family’s eldest son opts not to take over the family farm, sensitive daughter Amaia (Iraia Elías) steps in to convince their controlling father Tomás (Kandido Uranga) of the inevitability of change. A film of rare lyricism and visual poetry, writer/director Asier Altuna’s first solo dramatic feature is a sumptuous and deeply felt exploration of the struggle to maintain the customs that form identity against the inevitability of change. Symbolically rich and rooted in tremendous performances by a largely non-professional cast, Amama is steeped in Basque tradition but tells a universal tale of ancestry, generational divide, and the demands of progress.

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Film Credits
Asier Altuna
Iraia Elías, Kandido Uranga, Amparo Badiola, Klara Badiola, Ander Lipus
SIFF 2016